On the Phone
Originally uploaded by diverzify.

As a child I was fascinated with photography. I loved the dials, mechanisms and light meter needles. I loved the exotic brand names and funky model monikers. And I loved the spools of film that were threaded through internal workings.

But most of all, I loved the idea of speed. I was absolutely intrigued by the thought that you could capture something at one one-thousandth of a second. It seemed that, at that speed, you could find something secret in the folds of the world.

One day I discovered that my uncle kept a Pentax SLR camera in a box under his television. It was never used — there were too many dials and buttons. The instruction booklet was in pristine condition and the cameras had that "still-new" smell about it. So everytime that I visited, I would seek out the box and the camera — and the instruction booklet — and learn and play.

Originally uploaded by Hello, I am Bruce.

My first camera was a Zenit SLR camera and it was the best Christmas present ever. Prior to this I had always used my mother’s camera … normally of the "Instamatic" variety that were so popular in the 1970s. But my camera was different … it had interchangeable lenses — it had a light meter and required manual focusing. There were arpetures and F-stops … and numbers and dials everywhere. And I loved the complexity of it all.

I have owned many cameras since then … and, of course, I have a digital camera now. I also have a mountain of photos that document various times in my life (it was very expensive for me to develop films as a child, so my earliest photos are smaller in number). In some instances, these photos are my only memories of distant events — while other photos will trigger whole and rambling memories. I am sure that many others feel the same — cameras and photos are intrinsically linked to the stories of our lives.

So I was fascinated to read this post by Dina. In India, the mobile phone camera is the first exposure that many people have had to photography. And as the shots are digital, there is no cost to snapping … no film or development costs. It made me think back to my first camera and my excitement and pride (yes I was proud of that little Zenit). It made me think of those old photos that I took — and the way that I started viewing the world differently (I am still drawn to ready-made compositions through doorways and architectural angles).

But most importantly it made me think about imagery and history. With millions of Indians now starting, for the first time, to experience the joys and wonders of photography, there is bound to be an explosion of imagery, imagination and history. We live in wonderful times indeed.

Thanks to Diverzify for the image via Flickr.